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Central African Republic: Horrific violence leading to mass displacement

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(Video contains first-hand accounts from patients and survivors of attacks which may be distressing).

Urgent humanitarian action is required in the Central African Republic (CAR) following a mass displacement of the population in the town of Bouca, said Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders (MSF) today.   The displacement follows fresh clashes between reported anti-balaka elements and ex-Séléka forces for the second time in less than two months in this area.  

Climate of fear

The fighting around Bouca, a town of 15,000 people, started early last week and left several dead and wounded on the outskirts of the town. Some of the wounded casualties were taken to the Médecins Sans Frontières clinic, and two patients in a critical condition had to be transferred to the hospital in Batangafo 100km away. One patient died en route.

The recent violence follows deadly clashes in September when around 100 people were killed in attacks on civilians by armed groups, 700 houses were burnt down, and thousands of people were displaced.

Since then people have been living in a climate of fear and intimidation.  Last week, an ultimatum was delivered to the community of 700 people seeking refuge in the Bouca Catholic Mission to leave.

"More than half of the 700 people that were seeking refuge in the Bouca Catholic Mission have fled," said Matthieu Amiraux, Médecins Sans Frontières field coordinator in Bouca. 
 
"The situation is very tense, Muslim families are leaving the town in droves. All you see in town anymore is armed men."
 

Mass displacement

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In the neighbouring town of Bossangoa an estimated 35,000 displaced people are in need of assistance having been forced to flee their homes in early October.

Médecins Sans Frontières started mobile clinics in mid-November to reach those hiding in the bush, where its teams continue to witness the effects of ongoing violence, and the lack of a comprehensive humanitarian aid response.

The UN estimates that 400,000 people, ten per cent of the population, have been displaced across CAR since the coup in March 2013.  The communities displaced in Bossangoa and Bouca add to this number.  

Médecins Sans Frontières calls on the UN and other humanitarian agencies to increase their presence to respond to this neglected crisis. Since December 2012, Médecins Sans Frontières has expanded its medical programmes in CAR and scaled up its emergency response. 

find out more about msf's work in car

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